1st Software (now Avelo)
Avelo provides software for financial advisors and intermediaries in the UK. Its product line includes tools for financial planning and portfolio management; administration and sales support tools for document management and e-business; mortgage sales and origination; and back-office business management functions such as lead tracking, accounting, and compliance monitoring. Founded in 1996 as Independent Specialist Technology (it did business as 1st Software), the company changed its name to Avelo in 2011 following the expansion of its product line and operations through the acquisitions of N4 and Screen Business that year.
Their Adviser Office product is the preferred choice for half the UK’s leading financial advisers. Adviser Office offers unrivalled functionality for the professional adviser dealing in financial planning, portfolio management, protection, retirement planning mortgages and corporate benefits, and it is integrated with a complete client management system.
"With the next generation of adviser tools in planning and under development, less and less time is available to perform the level of testing required", says Gavin Trevett, QA Analyst from 1st. "1st is committed to delivering quality products, so to achieve this, the Quality Assurance team must become smarter in the way testing resources are employed."
"Our situation lends itself easily to the use of automated testing as we have a large but stable application that will evolve over time rather than be redeveloped. The task of regression testing, prior to quarterly releases, is massive and with such a large client base it is fundamental that the application operates properly upon release."
Automated Tool Requirements
Automation projects are notoriously difficult to get started. The initial outlay of expense, effort and slow progress make the task hard to justify for 1st. Their automated tool requirements were two-fold:
- A tool that is affordable.
- A tool that is easy to use.
"First, we needed a tool that was affordable, an expense that could be digested with even our development budget! Second, we needed a tool that was easy to use, even by users with no previous automated test scripting experience. Our strategy was to identify areas of the application that are used most frequently and presented the least complexity to script. This would allow us to prove to ourselves the usability of the tool and demonstrate to others the massive potential of automating test scripts."
This strategy has proved successful for 1st and they have now assembled a baseline of scripts for testing. "Everyone on the team has been able to gain some exposure to TestComplete and experience producing automated test scripts, something none of us had previously done. These scripts are now run back-to-back as a Project suite and form the basis of our overall regression suite."
1st faced a major challenge of completing a vast amount of planned regression tests prior to each product release. "By producing automated test scripts we have cut the time it takes to perform our regression testing suite. We have chosen to spend this time performing more regression scripts, increasing our level of confidence still further and improving the quality of the application, rather than reducing our timescales."
Using TestComplete to perform regression testing has improved the quality of their procedures. More regression tests are being performed which is providing a greater level of confidence in their released application, freeing up additional time to test more complex areas of the application and increasing their test coverage.
"The process of creating a suite of automated test scripts has meant reviewing parts of our regression suite and improving certain aspects. It has also allowed members of the team to learn new skills and techniques and gain valuable automated testing experience."
"TestComplete is a cost effective tool for automated testing for organizations that are looking to implement automation within their business. The tools interface is easy to use, ensuring scripts can be produced quickly, executed cleanly and test results recorded clearly. A vital factor when purchasing any software solution is the quality and responsiveness of the support function. The TestComplete support team at AutomatedQA is first class. They consistently provide timely responses to varying levels of questions, ensuring any problem that affects progress is not an issue for long. In short, I would have no hesitation in recommending TestComplete to anyone as a cost-effective and easy to use solution for automating test scripts."
— Gavin Trevett, QA Analyst
TestComplete Provides Confidence
"TestComplete allows us to run our suite of automated tests under different environments in order to provide confidence. We have the potential to run the same suite of tests against each flavor of the application, against multiple Operating Systems and against different application databases. This is a huge laborious and time-consuming activity to perform manually but once completed provides a significant level of confidence in the application prior to customer release."
At 1st, automation is still in its infancy. "We currently do not have designated time allocated in the development schedule to write automated test scripts. Our next step is to get time allocated into future project plans so that more scripts can be produced. Scripts are being produced to plan, following to prioritized order of functional areas. The ultimate goal is to build up a fully automated suite of regression tests."
Their automated test suite is run at least twice for every application release. "The first time the automated test suite is run, is at the beginning of the regression test phase, once all new functionality for the release has been implemented. This ensures that time is available to fix and retest any uncovered bugs before release. The remainder of the regression testing is then performed manually. The second time the automated test suite is run is against the final software build, prior to release and is just a final check, for confidence, prior to formal release."
Gavin states that, "perhaps the most useful function we have found so far with TestComplete is the ability to import data from another source like Microsoft Excel. This allows us to create many different test cases in spreadsheet format to perform data driven testing for fields within the application. This simple function provides such an effective method of data driven testing."